I think most of us can agree that college basketball is much more exciting than the NBA. The athletes play with more passion, more emotion and more purpose. The younger the athlete the more they are playing the game strictly because they love it. They’re not worried about the other benefits it may bring them in the future. They’re not worried about the millions of dollars they could potentially earn if they are good enough to go pro. They play basketball because of the satisfaction they get from putting a ball through a hoop. This is how it should be, but not always how it ends up.
Nowadays, the basketball players that are good enough to play one year in college and jump to the NBA usually do, and no matter how much people may not like it, the logic makes sense. You have guys that attend the best college basketball schools and dominate their competition during their freshman year and figure, since I did so good in college why not enter the NBA draft and have a chance at making a bunch of money? For a lot of guys, this works (Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, John Wall). But these guys that are able to make an impact in their rookie season are special athletes. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t fault them for making the jump to the NBA after just one year in college because they are succeeding at the next level and making a lot of money doing it. But in many instances, young athletes are prematurely going to the NBA without fully developing as a basketball player and/or as a person.
Just imagine if the one-and-done rule was abolished and all college basketball players had to stay in school for at least four years before they went to the NBA. The competition would be much stiffer than it already is because you would have guys like Durant, Love and Rose most likely playing against one another on the biggest stage in college basketball, the NCAA tournament. Can you imagine how much more exciting the match ups would be? There would also be the possibility of having another dynasty like UCLA had back in the John Wooden-era. Well, maybe not that extreme, but you get my point. Elite players would have another three years of experience at the college level while having virtually the same teammates throughout that time period. Teams like Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina would be even bigger powerhouses than they are now.
It’s much harder on coaches nowadays because first they have to worry about convincing the best high school players to play at their school. Then they have to worry about them being too good and jumping to the NBA after just one season. Then they have to figure out how they’re going to create any kind of continuity that is going to help them achieve their ultimate goal, which is winning a national championship. It’s like a revolving door that never ends and I’m sure it’s tough on a lot of coaches.
John Calipari is a perfect example of this. There’s no doubt that Calipari is one hell of a recruiter, but he always has to worry about all or at least some of his elite freshman class going straight to the NBA. There’s absolutely no way Calipari is going to win a national championship at Kentucky if this trend continues. Just look at his team’s record so far this season. All seven of their losses have been on the road against good teams (one was at a neutral location against Connecticut). So what does this tell you? It tells me that talent can win you games against at home, but experience wins you games away from home. And last time I checked, the NCAA tournament is not played at Rupp Arena.
There’s absolutely no way Butler makes it to the national championship last season if they don’t have a roster stocked full of experience. There’s also no way George Mason or Davidson (led by senior Steph Curry) make the unbelievable runs they did in the NCAA tournament a few years ago without senior leadership. This is what makes college basketball exciting. To know that on any given night, an underdog can beat a big dog. To know that there are still young athletes out there that play basketball truly for the love of the game. The sad thing is, there may not be many more of these athletes out there because of how much money professional basketball players are getting paid. But for the ones that are still out there, I’m rooting for you.
Submitted by Steve Giles